Paterson is a multicultural city and its diversity is reflected in its neighborhoods, grocery stores, and restaurants.
Paterson’s Little Italy is mainly along two thoroughfares in the Great Falls Historic District---Cianci Street and 21st Avenue. These strips are still lined with Italian cafés, clubs, delis, and restaurants. On Cianci Street, there is a fountain and a statue of Christopher Columbus with Italian and American flags hanging through poles. RC’s Deli on 21st Avenue has a plethora of Italian imports. You can also spot old Italian men drinking cappuccinos or loitering in front of Italian cafés.
Little Lima lies in Market Street, west of Main Street and is near Little Italy. Little Lima is home to many Peruvian restaurants, bakeries, travel agencies, and delis and an increasing Argentine population as well. It is not hard here to find cebiche (raw fish), chifa (Asian-Peruvian food), or Inca Kola on sale. This strip is bustling with pedestrians.
South Paterson is a vibrant enclave to thousands of Arabs, Turks, and Persians. Many people from other parts of the state flock here for the shops, cafés, and restaurants. In South Paterson, Arabic and Turkish are the languages of commerce in many stores. The neighborhood is also characterized by halal meat markets offering goat and lamb, shops selling Turkish and Arabic newspapers, and shop signs in Arabic.
Eastern Market Street, that is Market Street in the Wrigley Park section, is heavily Dominican and Puerto Rican. This area is composed of bodegas, Dominican restaurants, and barber shops.
Downtown Paterson, once a shopping mecca for North Jersey, has seen better days as shoppers and retailers headed out for suburban malls. Downtown Paterson is now dominated by a parking lot. No movie theatres or major department stores remain in Paterson. Today, Downtown Paterson is a mishmash of a variety of discount shops that hum on the congested streets. However progress is being made here. The sales tax is cut in half and a redevelopment project called Center City will replace the large parking lot into mixed use office and retail space. Downtown Paterson also features beautiful Beaux-Arts architecture. Although some of these buildings are in disrepair due to years of neglect, the charm of Downtown Paterson still remains. The Passaic County Courthouse Annex, built in 1892, is a beautiful replica of the Haarlem Market in Holland. Paterson’s City Hall is also appealing with a small park and fountain in the front that contains some beautiful monuments. Nevertheless, if you must shop higher end retail after walking around downtown, take the 171 NJ Transit bus in the corner of Broadway and Main Street to Garden State Plaza Mall in Paramus, just two towns over as an alternative.
The Great Falls Historic District
The Great Falls Historic District is the most famous neighborhood in Paterson. The city has attempted to revitalize the area in recent years, including the installation of period lamp posts and the conversion of old factories into apartments and retail. Many artists and some yuppies live in this section of Paterson. A major redevelopment project is planned for this district in the coming years. The Paterson Museum, which has a train in the front and depicts Paterson in its “Golden Industrial Age”, is also situated in this neighborhood. The falls is the second highest waterfall in North America after Niagara Falls. It is now a state park and will be a focus point in the redevelopment in the city along with Center City in Downtown Paterson. Also of interest is the Lambert Castle, which was home to Charles Lambert and a beautiful museum today.
You've all seen those western movies with a steam locomotive pounding along while those pesky injuns hoot and holler alongside it or a bunch of masked outlaws plan some daring robbery. Well, most of them were built in Paterson. At one time, there were five locomotive manufacturers in the city, and together they built more than ten thousand locomotives in the 19th century. It was a Paterson locomotive that met the engine from the west coast when the Golden Spike was driven in Utah to complete the trans-continental link in 1869.
I guess there aren't many of you VTers out there who remember Abbott and Costello. Old Cliffie recalls enduring their wacky kind of humour on Saturday afternoons at the local cinema. They were the Kings of Comedy in the USA during the war years and just after, producing a string of knockabout comedies, culminating in the 1948 cult classic 'Abbott and Costello meet Frankenstein' (recently voted 56th funniest film of all time by the American Film Institute). Paterson is so proud of Lou Costello, who was born here in 1906, that it has put up a statue of him. It can be found only a short walk from the Great Falls.
Samuel Colt has a fair claim to being the 'man that won the West'. It was in Paterson in 1836 that he built a state-of-the-art factory to manufacture his famous revolver. Although several thousand weapons were made, the success was shortlived and the company went bust in 1842. The old gun mill is now a ruin.